One of the most heated topics during the last election is back on the table--for North Dakota lawmakers.
While Measure 5 was overwhelmingly defeated in November, the talk tougher Animal Cruelty penalties is back at the Capitol.
Ag Reporter Sarah Gustin has details.
At this morning's Agriculture Committee Hearing it' standing room only with listening ears out the door and down the hall all awaiting the possibility of North Dakota's animal cruelty laws changing.
(Julie Ellingson / Stockmen's Association) "When a person fails to provide adequate care or abuses an animal, he or she is subject to a class A misdemeanor for a first offense of a class B felony for a second or subsequent offense within five years."
A diverse group of nearly 20 testimonies from livestock producers, to pet owners, even humane society and shelter volunteers asking the committee to pass the proposed legislation.
(Delrae Martin / Veterinarian) "I examined a dog that had severe matting of hair and overgrown nails which resulted in a really nasty skin infection and nail bed infection. Even knowing I didn't have statuary authority I advised the client that if they did not follow my medical treatment and bring the dog in for weekly exams I would keep the dog and contact the proper authorities."
(Cameo Skager / CDHS) "We have had in our shelter Abree that was cooked in the microwave by her owner, Smiley was a dog with an open leg wound that was left by her owner to suffer for many weeks without medical care. A puppy whose head was stepped on and smashed."
Even those who opposed Measure 5, fearing it would impact their lively hood, are in favor of this proposed bill.
(Jason Schmidt / Rancher) "We also want to do right by our animals. We live with them everyday, our kids are in local 4-H projects, we get up and do chores before we come and testify in front of the Senate Ag Committee in the Morning."
(Rep. Dick Anderson/ (R) Willow City) "It's going to allow the ranchers to do what they do best, produce cattle and also gives you an opportunity as a pet owner, I have had to destroy one of my own animals and it allows you to do it, which I think is sometimes necessary to end the suffering."
But not all are in favor of every piece of the proposed legislation, stating some proposed penalties are too harsh and could reach too far.
(Doyle Johannes / ND Farm Bureau) "As we see extreme cases involving lack of adequate care, animal abuse, and abandonment could be construded as an act of animal cruelty and thus do not need to carry a felony penalty for each of these sections. Farm Bureau believes this bill or any bill speaking to these important issues should be about protecting animals, not punishing people."
North Dakota Farm Bureau is in favor of the other components of the drafted legislation.